Torsion box assembly table

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Project by HighPointWW posted 02-08-2015 07:44 PM 6892 views 59 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was getting tired of assembling things on saw horses and plywood and needed a bench that addresses the usual dilemmas… had to be sized for a smaller shop, had to function as an outfeed table, needed a replaceable top, and needs to allow for storage.
Inspired by the great whispering Spagnuolo and also the Down to Earth Woodworker, I built this torsion box assembly table, modified to fit my shop.
As far as the particulars:
- The top is 42” x 60”
- The torsion box is entirely 1/2” MDF webbing and skins
- Top is covered with 1/8” hardboard, screwed into place only, and banded with poplar
- Base is 3/4” birch plywood
- Drawers are 1/2” plywood with 3/4” birch drawer fronts
- Compressor lives underneath and there are shelves/doors on the other side.

The only things left to complete are a quick connect air hose hookup, power outlet strip, and on/off switch for the compressor.


14 comments so far

View greg48's profile


588 posts in 2181 days

#1 posted 02-08-2015 09:10 PM

Just curious, why did you opt for a torsion box instead of a solid top? I do a lot of pounding on my bench and it seems that the top skin of a torsion box might flex.

-- Greg, No. Cal. - "Gaudete in Domino Semper"

View HighPointWW's profile


49 posts in 919 days

#2 posted 02-08-2015 11:54 PM

I agree with ya there..but my main purpose for this was assembly/glue-up and outfeed for the table saw. That was also why I didn’t add any vices or bench dogs. On my todo list is a smaller, laminated, poundable bench for that purpose.

View Dee1's profile


187 posts in 1313 days

#3 posted 02-08-2015 11:55 PM

Beautiful project I am envious of your clean shop and your Griz saw, would like to talk with you about that>

View nuttree's profile


279 posts in 2747 days

#4 posted 02-09-2015 05:51 AM

I like your design. It looks as though it should function perfectly for its intended purpose.

-- I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. -John Muir

View Shakes2311's profile


3 posts in 640 days

#5 posted 02-09-2015 08:00 AM

Very nice torsion box assembly table. How heavy is it? I see that it is on wheels, is it heavy enough to stay in place if nudged? I am working on the same project and have gone back and forth on whether to use 1/2 or 3/4 MDF for the weight issue.

-- Shakes2311, WA

View MHarper90's profile


91 posts in 1110 days

#6 posted 02-09-2015 09:40 AM

I built two torsion box tables last year (posted in my projects); one is a stationary out-feed table, almost 4’ x 8’, and the other is a rolling project table, about 2.5’ x 5’, on 4” red rubber, locking wheels. I couldn’t find 1/2” MDF anywhere locally, so I built everything out of 3/4”. Neither of my tables have cabinet bases, they are open with a shelf, and the out-feed table is so heavy practically takes 2 people to move considering it’s estimated at 400-600 lbs (Lowes says 3/4 MDF is 92 lbs/sheet).

The rolling table is still quite hefty. With 4” wheels it rolls nicely around the the shop without much effort, but it also stays put most of the time without even needing to lock the wheels. It’s probably closer to 200 lbs. I think the 3/4” MDF is overkill, but it works if you don’t have 1/2” available to you. If you’re building any decent size torsion box out of MDF, I don’t think you’re going to have trouble with it moving unexpectedly, no matter if you choose 1/2” or 3/4”

View HighPointWW's profile


49 posts in 919 days

#7 posted 02-09-2015 11:27 AM

@Shakes – I personally think 3/4” might be overkill. True, it would add more weight to the table and the skins would be stiffer between the webbing, but this was my first go around with a torsion box, so as I’ve seen others built and successfully used with 1/2” I went that route. If needs be, I can always built a new top in 3/4” and use the same base, but I think itll be fine. The casters are all swivel, but they all lock very well. If I nudge it, the only movement I see is the caster wheels skidding on the tile floor, which is fairly smooth. I’m not sure of the weight really, but I’d say somewhere in the 250-300lb range if I had to guess.

View HighPointWW's profile


49 posts in 919 days

#8 posted 02-09-2015 11:43 AM

@MHarper – I checked out your tables on your page…they look great! Question, what finish are you using for the frame and on the top? Still bouncing back and forth if I should put finish on the bases of leave natural.
BTW nice shop… really liking that floor!

View mloy365's profile


444 posts in 2554 days

#9 posted 02-09-2015 12:46 PM

That is a great piece of work and design!

-- Mike - Northern Upper Michigan

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1081 posts in 2819 days

#10 posted 02-09-2015 01:00 PM

Highpoint, I especially envy that beautiful floor!
I built a torsion box table in 2012 and have given it hard use since, included quite a lot of pounding. I restore and repair old chairs and getting them apart and back together often requires some pounding. I have had no issues with the top suffering from the pounding.
In my case, space is a serious issue, so I designed a table that come apart easily and stacks against the wall compactly. One reason I chose the torsion box top was weight. I’m not as spry as I once was – I’m 81 – and the torsion box is very light indeed. The worst thing that’s happened to it it the accumulation of glue and finishes on the hardboard skin on top.

Congratulations on a very nice build.

You can come and clean up my shop anytime!


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View timbertailor's profile


1591 posts in 848 days

#11 posted 02-09-2015 09:13 PM

Very nice assembly table. Should serve you well for years to come.

Thanks for sharing your design with us.

-- Brad, Texas,

View MJCD's profile


483 posts in 1795 days

#12 posted 02-10-2015 02:43 AM

I’ll be making a torsion box assembly table as my next shop project. My intent is to use a Festool MFT/3 top (with a tempered hardboard cover – drilled per the MFT/3). The under-carriage should eliminate the sagging, with the Tempered hardboard taking the pounding and glue/finish spills. This will provide the clamping versatility of the MFT/3 – no vises, though.

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

View pintodeluxe's profile


4827 posts in 2237 days

#13 posted 04-01-2016 09:48 PM

Very nice assembly table. That is one of the cleanest designs I have seen. Perfect size too!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View helluvawreck's profile


22707 posts in 2290 days

#14 posted 05-14-2016 06:05 PM

This assembly table is so nice. It would be a great addition to any shop. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

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